Su Doku

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

You know what I really can’t stand? Su doku puzzles. They’re everywhere. They’re overrunning North America. For those who don’t know what they are, let me explain them. 81 squares, in a 9-by-9 grid. Each set of 3-by-3 squares within the grid is also separated by a thicker line. So, in essence, it’s a 3-by-3 grid, and each box in that grid is divided into its own 3-by-3 grid. Anyways, in each of the small boxes, a number from 1 to 9 is placed so that each row, column, and 3-by-3 box has the numbers 1 to 9, with none repeated. There’s no math involved, just numbers.

Now, to let you in on a little secret, I’m a closet geek. Well, I guess I’m not so much of a closet geek since I just said that and posted it on the internet for everyone to see. But anyways, when I was younger especially, I loved logic puzzles. Word searches, crossword puzzles, jumbles, word games, number games, cryptograms – anything you could throw at me, I would tackle with an unreserved passion. I’ve kind of gotten out of that habit lately, but I still look at everything in life as one big logic puzzle, it seems. The point that I’m trying to make, though, is that these logic puzzles took effort. They were hard. They challenged your mind, they made you think, and I had to struggle to get through each one (or just give up and cheat by looking at the answers). Su doku puzzles are nothing like that. It just takes a bit of thinking, and as you look at the patterns of numbers already given, you can deduce where the rest go. It just takes a bit of time. But there isn’t much of a challenge. You don’t have to multiply each box by six, or even unscramble letters to find a hidden phrase. It’s just there, numbers – plain and simple. I hate su doku. And I’m addicted to them.

Yes, su doku has got to be the biggest curse to my logical brain if ever there was one. I hate them intensely, and yet they are so addicting that I can’t shake them. They’re not challenging enough that you have to take three or four days to work on them, and yet they’re just challenging enough to stimulate the brain. So they stick. Now, I used to have this problem under control. I found a good online gaming site that has three new su doku puzzles every day – easy, medium, and hard – and usually, when I woke up in the morning, I would go online and do all three. The hardest one would never take me more than about fifteen or twenty minutes if it was really challenging, so it was a nice break – an introduction to the challenges of the day, if you will. In the morning, my brain doesn’t function fully yet, so the sooner I get it stimulated, the better.

Now, however, my parents have unknowingly unleashed the addiction upon me even further. I’m now hooked. How did they do that, you ask? Well, last night when I came home from work, on my bed was a book. It was entitled “Maximum Sudoku,” with a little bubble brightly exclaiming, “Over 600 puzzles!” in big, exciting letters. Yes, my addiction has just gone through the roof. Because if I know myself at all, I know that I will have to do these puzzles. Otherwise, my parents just wasted their money on it, and I wouldn’t want them to do that. So I’ll put it to good use. And so, I now have 600 su doku puzzles at my fingertips, ranging from easy to challenger (the challenger ones are 16-by-16 grids using the numbers 1 to 16 – exciting!). Horror of all horrors, the monster has been unleashed. As I sit here now, the book is in front of me, smiling up at me with a bright, cheeky grin on its face, knowing I won’t be able to resist it. In fact, I’ve already finished five of them. They’re just there, and I know that whenever my ego needs stroking, whenever I need to feel better about myself, I can easily finish a few of them and proudly exclaim, “I am intelligent! After all, these su doku puzzles are no match for me!”

Yes, su doku puzzles are evil. Their complexity and yet their sheer simplicity means that the most unintelligent person can struggle through and finish one, and yet the greatest minds of our century can use them as a way to stimulate their brain. It’s torture. I know I could be packing for university, or rearranging my room, or painting a picture, or something, but instead, I sit here, placing numbers on a page as if to achieve some sort of cryptic codebreaking skill that will put me in good stead with acquiring a job at the CIA. But that’s just it. There’s no code. There’s no hidden secret. It’s just numbers on a page. Random numbers from 1 to 9, at that. How could something so simple be so addictive? I can envision myself, sitting in my dorm room alone, on my bed, doing su doku puzzles at 3 AM. Six hours pass, and still my image is unmoved – but now I’ve finished all the easy puzzles and am onto the harder ones. No, this cannot happen. I must pace myself. I must keep this under control. I must keep it from becoming an obsession. So, I should limit myself to three puzzles a day. Yes, that’s a good idea. But for today, I’ll just do a few more, since I’m not doing anything else…

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